TLC will launch the BlackBery KeyOne in the U.S. and Canada on May 31. The latest flagship from the revived brand will cost $549, and it will bring back the physical QWERTY keyboard along with Android Nougat 7.1.
The company teased the new device, then codenamed Mercury, at CES 2017 during the first week of January. Later in February, TLC unveiled the KeyOne but left consumers pending for an official release date.
Now that its launch approaches, it has become apparent that the BlackBerry KeyOne won’t be a smartphone for the masses. It has a few unique features to offer, but even those won’t be enough to compete with Apple and other Android flagship manufacturers.
BlackBerry KeyOne offers great battery life but laggy software
TLC is back to give the BlackBerry brand one last swing at the smartphone market. This time over, the BlackBerry KeyOne attempts to bring back its signature design in a slab form factor with a QWERTY keyboard.
Tech outlets with early review units have said one of the most pleasant surprises of using the KeyOne was how sturdy and durable it feels. That, in turn, comes with the downside of being thicker than most by current standards.
Leaving that aside, the BlackBerry KeyOne reportedly makes for a great user experience, or at least for a limited period. Publications like Android Police have said performance decreased dramatically after the first week of use or so.
The year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 and bad management of the 3 GB of RAM might be at fault here, not accounting for the lag some BlackBerry apps might bring in the long run (almost 20 pre-loaded apps). It might explain why TLC decided to go near-stock Android with the KeyOne.
Battery life is a silver lining though, as the 4.5-inch IPS LCD and the gesture-capacitive keyboard don’t consume enough to drain the 3,505 mAh battery as fast as other competing flagships.
Other notable features that might be attractive to some are, of course, the KeyOne’s strong focus on security and the dedicated side-button. All 52 keys of the keyboard are also shortcut-programmable, a neat little trick that is useful.
How does the BlackBerry KeyOne stand against others?
As an Android flagship about to launch, the $549 price tag on the BlackBerry KeyOne might be quite attractive to some looking for a device that is more productivity-oriented than most.
However, for those that pay close attention to next-gen components, the new TLC smartphone might fall a little short. Staying up to date with the latest trends comes at a price, though, roughly between $100 and $200 more than the starting price of the KeyOne.
Currently, some of the devices in the same ballpark as the new BlackBerry include the Huawei Mate 9, the iPhone 6S, the OnePlus 3T, and the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S7 in Amazon.
Bottom line, the BlackBerry KeyOne is a smartphone worth considering if you care about security, productivity, and versatility. Sure, there are cons, but it is up to you if you decide to overlook those in exchange for some unique features that no other handset offers.